Zain-Ul-Abidin, the eighth Sultan of Kashmir, introduced the spectacular handicraft to India from Samarqand, the city of papermaking in Central Asia. The world awes at the splendour of paper crafts that have been in existence since the 15th century. In the old days, Paper Mache was called Kari munaqqash, which translates to painted work. It was also called Kari qalamdani, or pen-case work, since it was commonly used to ornament pen-cases and small boxes.

Paper Mache Christmas Balls

With its authenticity Kashmiri handcraft has been following its traditions despite the popularity it has gained. The style and patterns in Kashmiri art bring out the presence of Islamic history and culture. The generations of Kashmiri artists contribute to Indian handicraft by creating the art in minute detail using their best and most genuine efforts. There are two important aspects of Kashmiri paper Mache- Sakhtsazi and Naqashi. Sakhtsazi is the first step in making a paper Mache figurine or object with paper pulp, whereas Naqashi is the finishing stage in painting and decorating it


Papier Mache crafts in Kashmir are made with traditional techniques from heritage using adhesives, such as glue, starch, or wallpaper paste. The craftsmen use traditional techniques from ancestral heritage to make these handicrafts. Each element has a distinct purpose in the process of preparing this handcraft as well as how they end up appearing. In order for one of the Kashmiri paper Mache items to be made, the paper pulp is soaked in water for three to four days. The paper pulp is ground in a stone mortar until it is uniform in its consistency.

Paper Mache Sweet Box - @ShopChaupal
Paper Mache Sweet Box

The artist uses a mold made of clay or wood to shape the paper and glue mixture around it. After it is taken off the mold before it is completely dry, the paper is shaped and lacquered to smooth the outside. A thin layer of butter paper is applied to the outside of the product after it has been smoothed. The outer layer of paint will eventually be kept from cracking off the finished product. The Naqashi stage involves painting a base coat. A unique design is then applied to the outside of the paper Mache object by hand, which means no two Kashmiri paper Mache items are alike. Colours used by traditional artists are often derived from mineral, organic, or vegetable sources.


These handicrafts not only beautify the home but also use the papers to their advantage. The process of making Paper Mache crafts is very vigorous and requires quite a bit of time. The families in Kashmir taking forward the traditions which are being used to make these handcrafts. Being a part of the Indian handicrafts, there are literally endless designs for fixtures, vases, statues, boxes, jewellry, wall pieces, containers, and wall hangings made of Paper Mache. There are varieties in designs and color, which help us, choose from plenty of options according to our preferences. Flowers, leaves, animals, and historical elements have a unique style that reflects Islamic culture and history.

Samriddhi Saraswat
Samriddhi Saraswat

1st year undergraduate student at the Jindal School of Art and Architecture.

Leave a Reply